Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Model Madness: Drudging Away...

Not much happened today... Just did some touch-up on some seams, got the couch primer-ready, and drilled holes into the front of the base where the wiring will flow for the LEDs. Looks like I'll be getting my lights in the mail either tomorrow or Friday, and then I'll just plunk 'em in there, to see what I'm dealing with.

Unlike my experience with the Son of Frankenstein custom build, I really want to make sure that these lights are in the exact right spot before I continue with their housing, which will be blocks of stones on each corner and a center stone to match. Of course, they'll be hollow and will house the LEDs. I need to figure out how to make it so that once I get the lights in the right spot, I can then lock them down. I want to be able to in the future easily change a LED if something goes wrong.

Since I'll be using four of these lights, I'll only need about 33 ohm resistance. I have a 100 ohm resistor that I'll probably go ahead and use, unless I go to Radio Shack tomorrow and pick up something closer.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Model Madness: Base Primered!

So... I had gotten to that point where a man has fiddled around for long enough, and I just had to see it all one color. No more grey, pink, orange and white!

As you can see, it didn't turn out too bad.  There's certainly a clear demarcation line where the new wall is, but if I place the table in its spot it breaks it up and it's not noticeable.
The wood floor looks nice and creaky, and the "beam effect" along the edge turned out decent. On the whole, I'm pretty pleased with it.

I'm working on getting the seams on the figures completely obliterated, then I'll build a few props, and then it's wiring and painting!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Model Madness: The Wall

Today was all about this model, and some big obstacles were knocked down...

First of all, we had the whole "candelabra" experiment.  In short, it was a big failure.  Basically, trying to use fiber optics (even with the ends flared out) to reach the ends of a miniature candelabra and show any light is a fool's game.  The only way the light will show is if you look directly at the end of the strand; this is something that I knew, I just let my imagination take hold and it blurred my vision for a while!  So, the alternative?  Actually, a much better one.

I'm going to bring the flicker LED up from underneath the floor, placing it right atop the table.  I cut off the end of a plastic syringe (one used for administering doses of liquid medicine) and applied some Micro Krystal Clear to the top of the open piece to mimic dripping wax.  I'll then paint the whole thing with a light wash of an yellowish-white tint, just enough so that the light coming from the bulb will still show through the upper part of the "candle."  Tests in the dark have been VERY promising, as you can see below.

I also went through the boring and grinding process of red putty on all of the seams on the kit, and then followed it up with the subsequent sanding down of everything.  It's a boring, dusty job, but somebody's gotta do it.  The Bride's arms were a bit of a challenge to the patience, but I got through them.

But by far the biggest challenge was tackled today, that of building up the wall.  As I've told you before, the supplied wall was nice but was way too short; the characters would almost completely block the wall, making its appearance in the kit almost unnecessary.  So after I attached a few inches' worth of wood to the bottom of the wall, I needed to create a stone texture to help blend in with what was above.

Now folks, there's different kinds of putty out there.  Epoxies, all kinds of stuff.  Today, I decided to take a shot using Bondo 801, their "Professional Glazing and Spot Putty," the one that comes with a hardener that you add as you go.  Let me tell you:  this stuff was INTENSE.  The stench was way too powerful for it to be used indoors (I applied it out on the patio).  And when it dried? IT DRIED.  Feeling the section I'd puttied, it was like a stucco wall on a building.  I even worried that I wouldn't be able to sand it!  The great thing about it was that, unlike the red putty, you could apply it in thick amounts since it dries via a hardener, so no surprise cracks later.

I ended up adding a thin layer of the red putty just to try to mimic the stone texture from the above "real" section of the wall.  After that, I used a Dremel to deepen the gaps in the "stones" to also mimic what was above.  I still need to sand it a bit to take off the rough texture, but as the photos indicate, I think it's going to work out.  There's a small hole in the dead center of the wall that will act as the port of entry for the wire for the candle.

There's a few more "props" that need to be made for placement on the table, since I'm going to use the wood shelves after all, and the bottle will probably go on them.  I'm thinking about a book "The Secrets of Death and Life" by Dr. Henry Frankenstein, to go on the table, along with maybe a skull or even-- as my friend Mark suggested-- a brain.  These little touches will make the kit, I think.

Well, I'm pretty pooped from working on it today, so I'll send you off with some pics!
Right after putty had been applied.  Take a look at her arms... what a hassle!
The "Bondo Wall."  Still in need of sanding to smooth it down to mimic the grey area above.  You can see the tiny hole in the center of the wall for wiring to go through.  With the added bits and the Bondo, the base is quite heavy now, and a long ways away from the tiny plastic rectangle that Moebius gave me!
First of all, yes, that's a Superman Pez dispenser there.  Anyways, here we have the table in place, and you can see the clear candle.  The white plastic part will not be part of the actual lighting display.
Here's the candle, in daylight.  Obviously, you can't see it in this still pic, but the light is flickering just like a candle.
This pic really shows how this "candle" is going to light up the back wall, while a few of these flicker lights will be at the base of the front, aiming up at the characters to light them.  There should be quite a bit of depth created with this strategic lighting.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Model Madness: The Furniture! Moebius Bride's Dowry...

We are really starting to chug along on this one now...

So what's a bride's new life with her husband supposed to be like when she doesn't have any furniture?  Or, more precisely, when all she has is a couch?!

Last night, I constructed a shallow "lab table" (the dimensions of the table would hardly be worth anything in a laboratory, but this is Hollywood). I used some balsa, some pre-cut squared wooden dowels, and yes, even a few popsicle sticks. I can't quite convey how sick I am right now of cutting popsicle sticks.

Anyways, besides the table not really making sense counterspacewise, it also makes no sense in that it is way too low to the ground to actually function as a table for anyone to scale with the figures.  But it doesn't matter, since no figure will be interacting with it.  I determined the height of the table solely by aesthetics, how it would look in the background.  I didn't want it to suddenly overpower the figures.  Also, by making it smaller and dropping the wall away a bit, it gives the slight illusion that the set is deeper than it really is.  I am going to have a ball painting this thing.  I gave it a "drawer," and of course there's no real functional drawer, and I'll add a handle later.

The next step will be to start building up the stone bottom edge of the wall.  I've been antsy for a while about getting all of it to the point that it's all primer grey, so I guess I better step it up and get this kit going.
Here  are the components that made up the table.  Since the table was wider than a standard popsicle stick, I had to patch together multiple cuts.
The legs were taped down so that I could set the 90 degree angles, then glued with carpenter's glue.  I know it's Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory, but nobody likes a table that teeter-totters!
Assembling the frame.  Notice how the patches are on the inner side.  They'll never be seen.
The next day.  Here's the table dried and puttied to take away most of the imperfections (that being anything that would scream "popsicle sticks!").
Primed and ready to paint! Completed, the table stands 4.5 inches, and is 6 inches wide.
I got the height just right, so that when I install the tabletop candelabra, it will shine between their faces and flicker off of the wall.  Notice how the table's presence doesn't clutter the set, but instead makes it appear deeper and more spacious.

Now with the table in place, you can see the ascending effect, like stairs, from the front edge of the base to the couch to the tabletop to the top of the wall.  There's more layers, and it's more interesting.  Check out how deep the set looks now!  I'm still contemplating utilizing the wood shelves that came with the kit (I have them taped in place here).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Model Madness: Set Expansion

And so the construction continues!

Today I attached the wood riser to the back wall. I'll be using some Bondo 801 to sculpt rock textures over the wood. Looking at the picture, you can really see how much more present the wall is now.

I also filled in the gaps on the floor, in particular the ones on the sides, to create the illusion of thick wood beams.  I also added a few strips to the flooring to take it up to the wall.

More to come... Soon it'll all be primer grey.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Model Madness: The Set

Miracles of Miracles, I got a little chance to start making some big decisions on this kit. Much like those moments when Bob Ross would be painting this beautiful sky, and then suddenly say, "Here's a bravery test..." and he'd take a 1-inch brush loaded with burnt umber and drag it right down the sky, to make a tree.

 I decided that I wanted to make a simple laboratory table to be parked in the background, up against the stone wall. I've decided to throw out the supplied wooden shelves that are meant to hold all of the clear plastic lab bottles. I mean, really, who and HOW would someone be able to hang a knick-knack shelf on a STONE WALL?!

The table will be very simple, a sort of utility table, about 6 inches wide, and high enough so that when I place the candleabra atop it, the "flames" will flicker between their two faces. Thus, I've had to commit to raising the styrene wall up about 2.5 inches, by placing it atop some wood strips that I'll do some surface work to disguise as stone. Also, in order to fit all of this in, I've added a wooden extension to the back section of the base. I'll cut more wood pieces to continue the wood floor pattern out to the back wall.

Also, I'm going to install two candle-flicker LEDs on the front corners of the base, so that while we'll have the flickers going on via some fiber optics in the candleabra, the real flickering light will come from the two in front (some good ol' fashioned Hollywood magic!). They will be concealed in cornerstones that I'm going to build from Sculpey.

I can see how this is all going to come together now, and it's getting FUN! It's that happy time, when the problems are getting solved, and now it's the hands-on creative part!
The initial set-up, with me holding the wall up to about the height that I'd like.  You can really see how, even with this expanded base, it's not going to be enough room.

Here you can see how little space is behind the couch, and how it would be nearly impossible to cram a table between the couch and the wall.  Where would the candlestand go?!

So, I added some additional "footage" to the base today, and have it wood glued and clamped now.  With this added space, I'll be able to now have a 6" long table parked against the back wall.  And immediately to the right you'll see two strips of hardwood-- they're going to be attached to the back edge of the base, and the styrene wall section will sit atop it, thus raising the wall considerably.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Model Madness: The Floor of Frankenstein

So I've stolen some time away today to chip at the Moebius Bride of Frankenstein kit. Basically, I concentrated on the base this afternoon. After having cut 36 tiny wood planks from some popsicle sticks, I watched "Bride of Frankenstein" and discovered that the lab in which this scene took place had a STONE floor! For a moment, I decided to make it screen accurate, and to toss the balsa rectangles. But then I didn't like having a stone wall and then a stone floor... all of that grey... and then I just decided something. I told myself that this is MY model, and I was going to make it the way that I felt was right. And I don't know about you, but a warped, dirty, creaky wood floor is creepier than a stone floor. It's drier, dustier, and can communicate aging a lot better than a stone floor.

 So, I decided to continue, except I threw away the base that came with the kit, accepting the reality that it is indeed WAY too small. I also cut square bits of wood to match up with the front ends of the wood planks. I will use putty to create the illusion that, instead of thin popsicle sticks, these are actaully thick beams of oak or something. I even matched up some strips along the side, so that the illusion will even work from the sides. The area below the wood squares will be made up to appear like rock of something. It will sort of bleed out to the bottom of the base, so that the box won't even be visible.

Though by forsaking the provided base I would be able to raise the wall a little higher, I believe I'll have to raise it even more, about an inch up more. It just seems dumb to have that wall and not have it be more of a part of the presentation. It would practically vanish if left to what the instructions want. I assembled the couch, and will have to use the cheapie plastic base for it, because I need the couch to be raised in order for the figures to sit properly.

 I really hate working in these tiny spurts, but I'll get going on this one again soon.
The wooden box base with "planks" in place.  I also glued matching pieces to the sides of the base, for the "beam" effect.  Right now it just looks like somebody's patio deck.
This is just to give you (and me) a bit of an idea regarding the overall size of the kit.  I'm holding the wall section about 1 inch above the surface of the wood floor.  I can't see the point in putting it at the height suggested in the instructions.  And check out the seams on that couch... this kits fits VERY well together.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Model Madness: "Bride" from Moebius

So I had a revelation, one of those epiphanies that happen after you just realized you ARE in a forest, despite the trees.

In short, I've decided to toss the plastic base, and place the wood floor onto the wood box base itself. I'll drill the wall into the base, and this change will lift the wall about 1/2" behind the figures-- very cool.  I might end up building this wall before I'm done!

I'm also hoping to get some flickering LEDs and incorporate them into the setting, as candles.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Moebius "Bride of Frankenstein" Underway

   With the passing of Christmas, and the dawn of a new year, I found myself in the enviable position of standing around with an Amazon giftcard in my hand.  Thank heavens that people just give me gift cards-- I can imagine that it's pretty difficult to find something for someone like me,  and receiving a gift card is just so "open horizon" for me.  I have a pile of differing interests (I happen to love Star Wars AND Star Trek, for example), so it's easier for them and better for me that they hand me a gift card so I can grab what I really want!
   As I thumbed through Amazon, I searched their model kits, and saw some beautiful stuff (like the Moebius Creature from the Black Lagoon kits), but there was one kit that left me slack-jawed, and I knew I had to get it.  The name on the larger-than-I-thought-it-would-be box is deceptive; it says "Bride of Frankenstein," but you're getting both the Bride AND Frankie in this kit.  And while I expected the figures to be to scale with the smaller Aurora/Polar Lights-style kits, I was stunned by how large they really are going to be.  I bet that if you could stand Frank up, he would be about 10 inches tall!
   The kit came also with a setting: a couch, a ruined stone wall, an odd platform for the couch to rest upon, and a wood floor base.  The wall gave me the heebie-geebies when I looked at the form:  it REALLY looks like the stone wall ruin that I made for my custom "Monsters of the Movies" Frankenstein build that I converted over to a "Son of Frankenstein" model (check in past posts to see that one).  What a nice match they'll be side by side.
   Now, not all of the parts are cool by me.  The wood floor base, obviously from another kit, had peg holes in it that don't match to any parts.  The wood flooring is so mechanically cut and perfect in its geometry, that there's no way that a.) it would be older than a year, or that b.) it would work as the flooring in a medieval tower where Dr. Frankenstein and the closeted Dr. Pretorious would be.  Really, it looks like laminate snap flooring!
   But really, that's about my only complaint.  Even the likeness is pretty good on Boris, not that it's that important to me.  The kit is well tooled, there's lots of detail.  And I'll be utilizing the things I learned on my "Son of Frankenstein" build to make this one even better.
   Check back as I update my progress.  Here's what's happened so far:

Using some wood cutting hand tools, I cut craft sticks into various lengths.  I wanted to make sure to avoid creating a predictable pattern.  I wanted the floor to look like it was insane, to reflect on what is happening in the scene.
Here you can see the odd base.  The panels are way too perfect, to mechanical looking.  Notice the peg holes that match no parts in the kit!  The wood base underneath will be attached to this plastic base to give the model more "presence."
I made sure to abuse each piece, taking away any semblance to a perfect line.  This floor is about to cave in, it's so weather-beaten and dry...
So we now have a wood floor that's REALLY a wood floor!  What's cool about popsicle sticks is that they do have that wood texture that'll show up during painting.  I'll lightly fill in any gaps in the flooring, making sure to not eliminate them, and all along the front the sticks along the edge will have false fronts put on them to give the illusion that they're not shallow boards, but thick beams of oak. Then, all around the edge, I'll probably have an earth-rock texture going to the edge of the wood box.  Yes, the pieces are actually numbered so that I can re-assemble them later!

The "Supervisage" is Complete! (And he's smiling!)

So here they are, completed.  Well, sort of.  I still need to glue the blocks to their backs, but cosmetically, they are both done.  Yesterday I sprayed some thick varnish on Supes, and his finish is much smoother than Batman's.

The light blotches on his forehead are not actually there.  Don't know what that's all about.  Anyways, I made it a point to have Superman sporting what my friend Loyd and I call "The Marshmallow Smile."  No lower bridge, no upper teeth.  Just one big slick white grin.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"The World's Finest" Faces

Here's the original charcoal pencil drawing on the board, complete with grid lines for accuracy with the original comic book cover.  By the time I got to the far left side of the board, I discovered that Oops! I didn't leave myself enough room.  What a dummy!

So here's the "inked" version, after using some black paint to brush in the main lines.  You can really see the big problem we have here; the left side is compressed due to my error.

So the solution... I cut out a small piece of the hardboard and glued it to the side of the ear, then puttied and sanded it smooth.  I then redrew the ear area, extending it out further.  He's still not perfect though, and further work on the left side of the jaw will have to be done.  I'm going to be looking at this probably for the rest of my life, so I guess it had better work for me!

Here's a side-by-side comparison.  I like how their personalities contrast.  It's going to be cool having them hanging together.  What's interesting is that even though no part of his costume shows, the curl in the hair tells you exactly who he is!  More development with the hair (and of course, further paintwork) is still to come!

So I had Batman's face cutout and finished, and decided that if I were going to have him hanging around, I was either going to have to a.) create a Robin face, or b.) create a Superman face.  Well, though Robin would have been the logical choice, when all is said and done I HAD to make Superman.

But which version? As you know, there's been many different renderings of the Man o' Steel.  George Reeves, Kirk Alyn, Christopher Reeve, the Curt Swan Superman of the '60s-'80s, and on and on.

Well, since this is a silly little creation for me, I need only please myself.  And of course, since I was a kid during the late 1970s-early 1980s, I went with the Superman that felt right for me.  I dug into the old comics drawer, knowing that I was looking for the first issue in a mini-series DC put out in '81, "The Krypton Chronicles."  I remembered it, somehow, because of the great drawing of Supes on the cover, smiling and looking straight forward (as was needed).  Make no mistake: while Batman can scowl, Superman is Superman.  He's invincible, wears an awesome costume, and is the GREATEST superhero of all time, period.  So this dude should be smiling!

Besides, who in @#*(! ever heard of a "dark" Superman.  Gimme a break!

Anyways, I've made sure to match the scale of this new Superman head with that of Bats, so that they can hang side-by-side when done.  I'm going to glue some wood blocks to their backside so that when hung, they'll look as if they're jutting away from the wall (probably what I should've done with Yoda).

Holy Doppleganger, Batman!

     So I took another look at that piece of 3/16" hardboard in my garage (the one used for my Yoda standee a while back), and I decided to create a life-size cutout of Batman's grimacing visage.  I just primed the board, then used craft paint and then topped it off with some kamar varnish.  It's so shammy-shiny now that it's hard to get a pic of it without glare!

The source image came from some super-hero giftwrap paper.  The original image was very elongated; he looked as if he would've been too skinny.  So I widened the head, to give him that "lantern jaw" that Batman MUST have.